by Dave Margoshes
Having lived a long, eventful life, Charlie Weinheimer’s only regret is that he has no one to carry on after him. After a near-death experience, he resolves to find out whether a secret buried in his past is proof he has a legacy after all.
“Margoshes gives us the life of Charlie Weinheimer: quadruple bypass patient, widower whose children all die tragically young, but not a whiner. In his hospital bed at age seventy-seven, he’s seen it all, right? Well, maybe not. Watch as Margoshes calls upon his raconteur skills to thicken the plot.”
— David Carpenter, winner of the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for A Hunter’s Confession
HAD A MASSIVE HEART attack last year.
Damn near died! Was halfway there, and a most interesting experience toward the end of the critical time. I was taken to the hospital in a car at 2 a.m. by my friend, Mabel Austin, a crusty old gal who takes sass from no one and spares no one her own. She rushed inside and got the security and another man to get me on a cart. I was sitting for what seemed a long, long time on the edge of the car seat in a parking lot outside of the Emergency door, expecting to get jumped by a mugger. I was going to go with a piece of him in my teeth.
Also, I was weighing my chances of making it, or not making it.
Out of my mind with pain but at the same time thinking damn clear.
No fright, though. I was ready to go but regretted I hadn’t made some arrangements to dodge the mortuary and morticians. I’ve made them now. I’ve collected my medical history (most of it, anyway), my body goes to a medical college. When the med student looks at it and wonders what the hell this guy did, what he went through, he will have the documents to tell him. And quite a story it is, too, what with a few scars I picked up walking up and down the Korean Peninsula in a machine-gun rainstorm. Well, that was a long time ago.
They put me under with Demerol and it was a pleasure to let go of that pain, I can tell you that. I became a junky for a few days while in Intensive Care. That was okay.
While I was going under, I called for my Mabel. But the doctors were too busy doing a quadruple bypass or something of that sort on me to get her until later. Mabel told the surgeon that she’d actually meant to take me to the other hospital, about twice as far away, but got her signals crossed somehow. He told her that if she had she most likely would have arrived with a dead man beside her.
Pretty close, but I did not see St. Peter, nor the Golden Gates, didn’t hear any harps or other types of heavenly music. I was just waiting for some guy to jump me in the parking lot, and even that didn’t happen.
Afterwards, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d been robbed after all, stripped of something valuable I’d never be able to reclaim.
Still, all in all, I came out okay. Nothing like a close call to sharpen the mind, though, isn’t that what they say? Focus it? I came home from the hospital with a certain resolve. Live a better life, be a better fellow. When you’re as old as I am, it’s easy to make resolutions—you only have the rest of your life to stick with them, after all.
I’ve never been much of a drinker, certainly no one who ever had to go to an AA meeting, but I’ve had a few friends who’ve had their sorry lives turned around. There’s one of the steps of the big twelve where you go round asking people to forgive you. Asking for trouble, seems to me. Happened to me more than once, fella comes along says he wants me to forgive him for such and such, something I never was even aware of or was but had forgotten about. Might still be stuck in this guy’s craw, but to me it was never a big deal. But now, he calls it to my attention, maybe I get sore, hell, no, I don’t forgive you! See what I mean? In my case, as it happens, I’m an easy-going sort, and forgiving by nature. But what if you aren’t?
What if a fella came along and says, “Look, I slept with your wife, oh, years back, I was a drunk then, didn’t know what I was doing. I want to apologize, heartfelt as all get out. Please forgive me.” Well, depending on your temperament, you might deck this fella or worse, and do the same to your wife later—or, if you have a sense of humour, you might say, “Whatd’ya mean, you didn’t know what you were doing?”
Rife with danger, that’s the way I see the whole exercise.
about the author
DAVE MARGOSHES' books include three novels, five volumes of poetry and a biography. God Telling a Joke and Other Stories will be his seventh collection of short fiction. He's had stories and poems published in dozens of magazines and anthologies in Canada and the United States (included six times in Best Canadian Stories), had work broadcast on CBC, and given readings and workshops across the country. He was a finalist for the Journey Prize in 2009. Along the way, he’s won a few awards, including the Stephen Leacock Prize for Poetry in 1996, the John V. Hicks Award for fiction in 2001 and the City of Regina Writing Award twice, in 2004 and 2010. His Bix’s Trumpet and Other Stories was Book of the Year at the Saskatchewan Book Awards and a finalist for the ReLit Award in 2007, and his poetry collection, Dimensions of an Orchard, won the Anne Szumigalski Poetry Prize at the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards. His A Book of Great Worth was one of Amazon.Ca’s Top Hundred Books of 2012.
by this author
Decades ago, when bands like the Everly Brothers rode the airwaves and vacancy signs shone like beacons in the night, a young man gets his first taste of love, loss, and the ethereal satisfaction that comes with knowing that the world is turning and life is being lived.
from the library
Some time after the incomprehensible death of his son, Joan Miró has settled into his new job working the overnight shift at a Hasty Market in Toronto. He has plenty of time to think beneath the fluorescent lights of the convenience store: of ghosts and late nights, of downtown living and dying, of customer service and self-preservation, of the beauty of the night sky, and of the attempts people make to connect with one another despite seemingly insurmountable distances. These fragments of life prove as difficult to make sense of as any code—until one night, when an extraordinary series of events suddenly teases a pattern from the dark.
“In this graceful, dark, and nuanced piece, Lana Storey reveals a private man unhinged by grief. These are events—and this a narrative—that will stay in my mind for a long time. Never one to shirk from difficult truths, Lana Storey writes in the tradition of George Saunders: an original, at times disturbing, but ultimately transformative worldview.”
— Carolyn Smart, author of Hooked: Seven Poems and At the End of the Day
“Cross Yourself is Lana Storey’s gorgeous swirling image constellation, a story about a man becoming unhinged from the universe and finding redemption in a downtown Hasty Market convenience store. A vibrant, beating heart of a short fiction, Cross Yourself is a vortex worth being pulled into.”
— Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of the 2005 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award finalist The Nettle Spinner
A recruiter for a Division I college basketball team travels to a town in hopes of finally convincing the year's prize high school prospect to play for his team. Over several days, he reflects on his love of the sport, his respect for the kids, and a job that forces him to sweep sentiment aside in order to get results.
“Andrew Forbes' The Gamechanger is a powerful work from a point-of-view — that of the scout, the talent evaluator — which is not often seen or done convincingly, as it is here. A story about fathers and sons, about fate, and about the implicit savageries that lurk at the heart of the sports we love and the teams we cheer for. This is wonderful, raw writing.”
— Craig Davidson, author of Rust and Bone and Cataract City
“A fascinating look at the relationships a recruiter has to manage, from the sacrifices of being away from their family, to dealing with rival recruiters, prospects and their friends and family ... a very nuanced and layered approach that goes beyond just a man with a job to do at a gym.”
— Alex Wong, stevenlebron.com
A hybrid travelogue and memoir that pieces together the fragmented recollections of one woman’s rocky journey toward vegetarianism. From her rural upbringing in francophone Northeastern Ontario to exotic locations, outlandish adventures, and bizarre meals, Julie relives her struggle to make the right food choices for herself and examines the consequences of her decisions.
In New York City, Ben smokes too much and sleeps with women as a way to deaden his insecurities. With every indiscretion, he fights off adulthood for one more day, until the return of an ex-lover leaves him unsure of everything. Ben’s best friend, Josh, struggles to find the good in his marriage to Maddie, even as he searches for a way to keep from losing her. Ben’s neighbor, Mrs. Aguilera, looks to make peace with those she has already lost. Gripping tightly to one another like the oddest of families, Ben and his friends embody the place in which they live: a city where everything combines, with a touch of perfect madness, into something more than the sum of its parts.
“I love this story because it’s just plain good. The characters are broken and unsure, but the love they have for each other and the humor that carries them along is genuine and lovely to behold. This story made me laugh even while it was hitting me in the gut, and I’d like nothing more than to sit down and drink a beer with everyone in it. Mr. Goodman, thank you for rocking my literary waffle.”
— Lish McBride, author of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
Marcel, a sensitive sniper, knew his life was missing something. But he didn't know what until he set his crosshairs on it: Violet Caine. A ginger-headed lover of Thai food, wanted dead simply because her brother messed with the wrong bike gang. It's a story of redemption coming too late, and the ways happenstance can turn a warm man cold. Then warm again. Whether fate wrote his troubled life, or he wrote it himself, he wants Violet Caine to be the end of it - be it figuratively or literally.
A man in the throes of a breakup is selling all of his possessions on Kijiji and Craigslist. Greg’s couch, his VHS tapes, obsolete desktop computer, and cow-shaped clock – it all must go. Between pot smoking, pizza eating, and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, he meets with would-be buyers, taking his old life apart piece by discount piece in order to figure out what went wrong.
After twenty years of running, Betty quietly returns to her hometown of Arbford, thinking it a solid place to finally put down some roots. But the adage 'you can't go home again' proves true, as Betty finds that her mere presence is more than enough to disrupt the stagnant lives of everyone around her.
“In this cautionary suburban fairy tale, a big-city refugee searching for home finds herself in a nest of multiple Mikes and Pyrex-wielding vipers. With enchanting style and snort-causing wit, Grace O’Connell does casserole-studded claustrophobia like nobody’s business.”
— Jessica Westhead, author of And Also Sharks and Pulpy & Midge